Bridging Italy and the U.S. Through a Cooking class

Kathy Nano Bolanowski with Chef Jen holding Italian cookbook. Kathy Nano Bolanowski with Chef Jen holding Italian cookbook.

Quest’articolo tratta di una donna che voleva frequentare una lezione di cucina nordica del Lago Maggiore. Ma, lei non ha prenotato la lezione in anticipo, ed allora, mentre era in italia, non ha potuto segiure la lezione. Quando è ritornata a casa, ha provato a comprare il libro della cuoca, Francesca, che ha il suo libro su Amazon.  Purtroppo, c’erano dei problemi con Amazon, ed allora l’autrice ha inviato un’email a Francesca, e la cuoca l’ha spedito. Quando era il compleanno dell’autrice, invitò  i suoi amici a casa sua e ha fatto e insegnato agli amici le ricette di Francesca. Per lei e gli ospiti, la parte più bella era quando hanno fatto la pasta a mano. Anche, ha cucinato la bolognese e ha preparato un’insalata con il raddicchio. Acconpagnando tutto con il vino italiano e la felicità d’essere in buona compagnia, Era una serata bellissima. L’autrice suggerisce che tu inviti i tuoi amici, che prenda un libro con le ricette italiane, e che cucini i cibi italiani tutti insieme.

I have always wanted to take a cooking class while in Italy. Last May while in the Lake Maggiore area, I thought my time had come. However, waiting until the end of a vacation and expecting to get into a class at the last minute was not realistic. There was a silver lining to it all because Francesca, the cooking instructor, had a cookbook, “The Joy of Cooking Italian,” for sale online. 

When I got back to the states, I tried to order the book on Amazon, but it was not available due to payment issues. I sent the instructor an email explaining my problem and thus began the challenge of procuring her book. I contacted a local book store owner who sent Francesca an email and she agreed to sell him one book. The cost of shipping was expensive but proved to be worth it in the end. 

Some months later, with my December birthday fast approaching, I decided to do something different, something “out of the box.” I had this creative idea to have a cooking class at my house and invite a few friends. However, this was to be no ordinary class – I wanted to use Francesca’s Italian cookbook for the class. Thankfully, I had picked up a business card from a local chef. I had already taken two classes from her in my area over the years. 

Our local chef, Jen, was very open to my idea of using Francesca’s recipes to create our Northern Italian dinner from scratch. Jen would go shopping for all the ingredients and the friends I invited would get to participate in making the dinner. Afterwards, we would eat the works of our labor. 

This was an unbelievable experience not only for my husband and I but our four guests. We never laughed so hard as trying our hand at making pasta from scratch. Jen even brought a pasta machine for our Bologna Lasagna. What a difference in texture from our usual American lasagna noodles. These homemade noodles were very thin and more flavorful. 

For dessert we opted for the “Ugly but Good” hazelnut cookie. I was so fortunate to discover this cookie at a local bakery in Porto Ceresio and to find the recipe in Francesca’s cookbook. The cookie has its roots in a town near Varese. The recipe called for hazelnuts. Because the skin is so hard, we put them in the oven to soften. We all had different food preparation assignments and when it finally dawned on us to check on the hazelnuts, they were black. There was no way we could use them to make our cookies. We laughed it off and went back for another glass of Italian red wine and regional cheeses. We were having so much fun that we decided to just prepare the bolognese lasagna and radicchio salad. We also came up with another plan for dessert, sweet mascarpone with fresh fruit.

So, grab some friends and create your own Italian cooking class with or without a teacher. It is a fun experience that brings friends and family together through food. Mangiamo!